Wednesday, 13 March 2013

CD Review: Khaos Legions, by Arch Enemy (2011)

After a four year gap, Arch Enemy return with a sturdy set of eleven new melodic death metal tunes, supplemented by another three short instrumentals. Khaos Legions is a commendably consistent effort, Arch Enemy at their fine-tuned best, although raw inspiration has undoubtedly been replaced by careful assembly and precise craftsmanship.

With the band's previous studio effort Rise Of The Tyrant (2007) pre-dating the Great Recession, Khaos Legions draws inspiration from the economic and social turmoil sweeping across Europe and the world. The album delves into the wreckage of a broken system, the hordes of anarchy marching in protest, overturning vestiges of failed regimes.

Rattling the chains / Shaking the cage
Heed our war cry
Let there be no doubt / We want out
This is reckoning day

Into the mix the band amplify godlessness as a celebratory badge to be worn while dismantling the discredited establishment. These themes are far from new in the metal world, but Arch Enemy effectively package them to match a prevailing consciousness later expressed on the street by the Occupy and anti-austerity movements.

As for the music, Khaos Legions consists of exactly what can be expected of Arch Enemy. Leaning heavily on strong melodic themes and Michael Amott's lyrical solos, all the tracks maintain a moderate to high speed tempo and a similar length of 4 to 5 minutes. Angela Gossow's vocals are noticeably less growly and more accessible. The album peaks early with Yesterday Is Dead And Gone and Bloodstained Cross setting an aggressively passionate high bar that the rest of the album touches, but cannot quite match.

The undeniably professional smoothness of the production is tempered somewhat by a sameness to the song construction, and the seams between the heart of each song and the solos are more laboured, where in the past the transitions were more natural.

It may be a glorification of carnage, but Khaos Legions is ironically an orderly celebration of melodic death metal polished to an expert shine.


Angela Gossow - Vocals
Michael Amott - Guitars
Christopher Amott - Guitars
Daniel Erlandsson - Drums
Sharlee D'Angelo - Bass

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Khaos Overture - n/a (short instrumental)
2. Yesterday Is Dead And Gone - 10
3. Bloodstained Cross - 10 *see below*
4. Under Black Flags We March - 8
5. No Gods, No Masters - 9
6. City Of The Dead - 8
7. Through The Eyes Of A Raven - 8
8. Cruelty Without Beauty - 7
9. We Are A Godless Entity - n/a (short instrumental)
10. Cult Of Chaos - 8
11. Thorns In My Flesh - 9
12. Turn To Dust - n/a (short instrumental)
13. Vengeance Is Mine - 8
14. Secrets - 9

Average: 8.55

Produced by Rickard Bengtsson and Arch Enemy.
Mixed and Mastered by Andy Sneap.
Engineered by Rickard Bengtsson, Staffan Karlsson and Arch Enemy.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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